Oxford used to have a great range of bookshops, not surprisingly for a university town, but they have been steadily closing. Here are the ones that are left.
Daunt Books Summertown
A branch of the London independent. Has a really excellent selection of books — an extensive children's selection, great world literature reach, and lots of history — in a nice spacious layout that makes browsing comfortable. The books are organised by country and region — so the Netherlands travel guides and non-fiction are alongside the Dutch fiction.
The Last Bookshop
This is a mix of secondhand books and new ones - the latter are mostly £4 (up from £2 in summer 2014) or three for £10.
Notable finds here (or in older incarnations of the shop) include novels by Wolfgang Koeppen, W.F. Hermans, and Gert Ledig. Mostly they have stacks of the same title, but they have occasional "one off" titles - a nice hardcover copy of Elias Khoury's Yalo, for example, and a hardcover copy of Menezes and Mendeiro's An Introduction to Auction Theory.
A reincarnation of the old Last Bookshop. A discount shop, with most books £3 to £5.
This is Oxford's best known bookshop. Spread over four levels - and three shops, with a separate Art/Poster on the other side of Broad St and a shop in the Westgate shoping centre - Blackwells has a great academic and specialist range. It's also spaciously laid out, with armchairs for reading scattered throughout, and has a Cafe Nero attached to it. (For Sydney-siders, Blackwells has as many books (100000+) as Abbeys (55000) and Gleebooks (?) combined, but in at least twice the space.)
There are plenty of 3-for-2 offers, even 2-for-1 classics, but also a few shelves of sale books: my finds here include Ancient Sukhothai for £1 and Israel's History and the History of Israel for £10. Upstairs is a small antiquarian and secondhand section.
The Oxford Waterstones has a good range of books, spread over several floors, and a nice layout, with show tables highlighting themes e.g. literature in translation, first novels. There's a Costa's Coffee attached. Waterstones is much better than any of the Australian chain bookstores (such as Dymocks or Angus and Robertsons).
The specialist Oxfam bookshops on St Giles and Turl St are both excellent. The people running them know how much books are worth, though, so real bargains are hard to come by.
Most of the charity shops - and Oxford has many - have a bookshelf or two of books.
On Cowley Rd, the Oxfam shop gets some nice books in. I picked up one of the Clay Sanskrit Library volumes, the Gitagovinda, for £2 here. And the Age UK shop is decently curated. The Barnardos and Helen & Douglas House shops seem to collect less interesting books.
The Oxford University Press Bookshop
The OUP bookshop is always something of a disappointment. There are some excellent books, albeit rather expensive, but it's all a bit staid. Given the prices, it's hard to justify not just going to Amazon for OUP books.
St Philip's Books
St Philips's specialises in theology and church history, but also has some general history. It's a bit cramped and not that much fun to browse in, so I don't visit that often. The web site is easy to use, however.
Antiques on High
The front is dedicated to antiques, but the back rooms have quite a decent stock of books, mostly antiquarian/collectible.
A Christian bookshop.
What have I missed? And no, WH Smith doesn't count as a bookshop!
Borders, the Inner Bookshop, Barefoot Books, Paradise Books, the Albion Beatnik, the Book House, ...